Apple Monday sent a letter to Lodsys and to developers, saying it has the licensing rights to in-app purchases and that developers are fully able to use them, according to Macworld. Devs on Twitter had begun discussing the letter received by Apple just a few hours ago.
The full text of the letter, which has been obtained by Macworld, is addressed to Lodsys CEO Mark Small, and is signed Bruce Sewell, Apple’s Senior Vice President & General Counsel. In the letter, Sewell acknowledges Small’s recent patent infringement claims against App Store developers, and states right up front that “Apple is undisputedly licensed to these patent and the Apple App Makers are protected by that license.” Apple states that Lodsys’ allegations have “no basis,” and articulates its intent to “defend Apple’s license rights.”
The letter from Apple goes on to assert that Small’s threats are likely the basis of “misapprehension regarding Apple’s license and the way Apple’s products work,” and assumes that the outstanding threats will be revoked as a result of the clarification Apple is making today. Apple acknowledges that it does indeed hold licenses for all four of the patents in Lodsys’ portfolio, and that the licenses it holds entitle Apple to “offer these licensed products and services to its customers and business partners, who, in turn, have the right to use them.”
The letter then goes into more detail about the specifics of U.S. patent law, and articulates exactly why the claims made by Lodsys are in error, according to the way in which the App Store and Apple Developer Agreement works.
Apple was clearly taking its time to make sure it had a comprehensive grasp of Lodsys’ position before firing a return shot, but the Mac-maker’s response could hardly be more assertive. The message is clear: Stand down or gear up for a full-scale legal battle with Apple, which is clearly not what Lodsys was bargaining for as it chose to pursue small developers with very limited resources. Unlike devs, Apple doesn’t have to consider backing down as the only way to keep the business afloat.
This is a welcome development in this in-app purchases licensing debacle, but it isn’t necessarily the end of the story. We’ve contacted Small for a response, but don’t expect him to issue a reaction before considering how best to formulate an answer from a legal perspective.